It’s really happening. The adventure of a lifetime is winding down.
On Monday, 11 December, Gracie finished her Year 7 at St. Mary’s. While the first day was rocky (and leaving her with her Dean is etched in my heart, how hard that was) and she never really fell in love with her teachers or classes, she DID make a bunch of great friends. So ripping her out of there after she’d just really begun to feel settled – and after we dragged her to this little fishing village at the end of the earth against her will – honestly has made me feel like a total asshole of a parent. The Professor and I KNOW she will look back on this experience fondly and be glad for it, but we have the perspective of almost half a century to know that. She doesn’t have that, so she only feels more upheaval and pain. We met her at Mary’s Cafe for a lunch and coffee and to debrief on the day. She came in kind of weepy, but worked through it and by the time she got her (decaf) mocha, she was pretty happy.
Then we walked back to St. Mary’s College for Tate’s year end performance. We knew it was “Bollywood,” but how high would your expectations be for a bunch of 9 and 10 year olds dancing a Bollywood dance? Yeah – ours were pretty low as well. BUT IT WAS AMAZING. These kids. Their teacher. It was so great. And Tate was stunning. She earned a spot in the front row and I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever seen her so radiant or proud in her life. She knew every beat and was so proud and shone so brightly from the stage. Loved it. Loved it so much that I cried. Of course.
We popped over to The Cav, one of our favorite gastropubs in town with some good friends and then had their oldest for a sleepover that night, because Tate had two more days of school. The girls and their sweet friends. Going to miss these little ladies a bunch.
Gracie had her last Touch Rugby match on Tuesday. AND OUR GIRL SCORED A TRY (which is like a touchdown in football)! It was so exciting, but alas, not enough to win the match. But the whole thing was a great experience with a great group of girls, and I think Gracie had a lot of fun. And yes – girls the world over will do hand stands and cartwheels when they’re supposed to be practicing and concentrating on other things…
We also got Tate’s year-end report on Tuesday – here’s a shot of the teacher comments. Also made me cry. Tate’s teacher and class embraced her and welcomed her and loved her, and she soaked it up. New Zealand has transformed her. She’s become confident and comfortable in who she is, and it’s been amazing to witness.
Her last day was Wednesday and it was a sad one. She made great friends who loved her through the scary beginning and had a wonderful teacher who appreciates Tate for ALL that she is. We will miss them terribly.
On Thursday, we headed up to Paihia in the Northland of the country. It’s a little seaside town in the Bay of Islands, and The Professor and I loved it when we were here 18 months ago. Here are our views and The Professor grilling steaks on our first night.
On Friday, we did a cruise to the Hole in the Rock and saw some dolphins. Very cool and so pretty. On the way back, we stopped at Russell, which is a little town across the bay from Paihia and once known as the Hellhole of the Pacific (thanks to when the Americans got news of the money to be made whaling and came over – with them they brought support for the brothels and the drink). It was a landing spot for the Marist missionaries and the site of the first printing press in New Zealand. So much history – both of the country and Marist – in this part of the country. We had a great time over there. Visited the Pompellier Mission (where the Marist brothers printed off prayer books for the Maori) and had some drinks at a beautiful spot.
Hole in the Rock:
Saturday, Tate and I hit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. That’s the treaty between the Maori tribes and the Crown of Great Britain – the only time Great Britain signed a treaty instead of fully overtaking a country. I think it’s a fascinating piece of history – partly because it only happened 177 years ago! The history is relatively recent and it’s pretty crazy to think that NZ is the newest country to be founded. Anyways – Tate and I toured the grounds, watched a cultural performance and soaked it in.
Then we went to a local beach and enjoyed the summer weather, sun and Pohutukawa trees in bloom. And were overtaken by seagulls. Which is particularly traumatic for me since I’m terrified of birds.
Sunday morning, my parents and their friends met Fr. John in Napier and he toured them up to the Mission Estate Winery and some others. How nutty is that? What a fun small world this is.
They’ve been enjoying our adopted country – more so now that they’re hitting the nice weather. They hit us in Auckland on Tuesday – which is TOMORROW! CANNOT WAIT. To see them, to share our Auckland life with them, to show them more of this land that we love so much. We’ll have them for two days in Auckland then we’ll all fly down to Queenstown for about a week. Will spend Christmas there, they’ll fly out for home, and we’ll meander our way up the South Island, cross over to the North and then leave. Can’t bear to think about leaving, so will focus on the fun happening before that.
And will, of course, keep you posted.